An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | May 7, 2010

Building partnerships to emphasize Total Force

By Lt. Col. Leif Eckholm 457th Airlift Squadron commander

In April, when President Barack Obama and 47 international leaders converged upon Washington for a nuclear summit to discuss methods of safe-guarding nuclear materials, it was the largest gathering of Heads of State since 1945 when Franklin D. Roosevelt gathered world leaders to form the United Nations.

The president impressed upon the delegation that a strong and committed international partnership, united in its resolve to secure nuclear material, will provide the most effective means of combating illegal theft and smuggling of radiological matter.

Although the concept of security cooperation is by no means novel, witnessing so many world leaders deliberate various means of obtaining this significant objective clearly demonstrates the vital importance of partnerships at a strategic level.

As this historic summit unfolded, and a variety of news agencies
captured and displayed the events for the world public, we at Joint Base Andrews witnessed an amazing display of teamwork and cooperation that was fundamental to the summit's success, but altogether transparent to the greater community. The combined support of the 316th Wing Protocol, Security Forces, Civil Engineer, and Logistics Readiness squadrons, the 744th Communications Squadron, the 89th Aerial Port Squadron, together with the integrated planning of the Secret Service, State Department and Homeland Security was truly a marvel in and of itself, and the success of this Herculean support effort was again driven by a host of strong and committed partnerships.

We see this every day in our Air Force, albeit not always on such a grand scale. Partnerships exist at every level of the Air Force corporate structure, and the success and effectiveness of these inter and intra-agency relationships can make or break an organization.

Working together with other people, either from the same or different organizations, is a fact of life in our Air Force, but those who focus on building strong rapport and who endeavor to sustain and enhance these personal and professional relationships will benefit from the additional support engendered by a robust partnership, one that establishes a genuine sense of camaraderie and/or mutual interest and respect.

Those that fail to understand this fundamental human feature usually engage others only when the association is somehow beneficial to them, ignoring a responsibility to reciprocate and add value to their colleague's mission objective whenever possible. These people will soon find themselves alone to face the challenges that are designed to be conquered in concert with others, and the mission and the people will suffer.

On Joint Base Andrews the value of healthy partnerships between the 316 WG, the 89th Airlift Wing, and a myriad of joint and tenant units at the squadron, group and wing levels cannot be overstated. As more and more installations throughout the DoD transition to joint basing, collaboration of this nature will continue to increase.

At the same time across the Air Force, Total Force Integration demands better-than-ever Active Duty relationships vis-à-vis the Guard and Reserve. Not to mention, as combat operations and train-and-equip efforts endure in Iraq and Afghanistan, collaborative efforts involving numerous civil and joint military entities worldwide are more prevalent than ever.

Hence, there has never been a time where building strong partnership capacity across organizations, Services, military cultures, and international boundaries was so imperative.

Leaders must understand this and, by example as well as influence, cultivate an environment where taking concentrated measures to build, sustain, and enhance enduring internal and external partnerships is truly inherent in their organizational culture. Our mission and our people depend on it!